Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best. Counter-scam. Evar.

from my friend Sam:

How to Trick an Online Scammer Into Carving a Computer Out of Wood

Invertebrate Music

Artist Plays Theremin With a Jellyfish

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Radiation... it's what's for dinner.

Why spend money on pharmaceuticals to treat your disease?

Just spend some time in the Radon Health Mine and you'll be fine!


 " Ever been to Utah?  Ra-di-a-tion.  Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you.  Pernicious nonsense.  Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. "
  - J. Frank Parnell in "Repo Man"


Good News... Bad News

The Good News:
Sources say George Lucas is planning to rerelease the entire "Star Wars" franchise in 3-D...
The Bad News:
... starting with "The Phantom Menace."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

News Article: " Revolutionary War Encampment In Skippack "

I'm interviewed in the article:

Well, that Moment of Fame was certainly worth at least 15 seconds.
Only 14 minutes, 45 seconds to go !

Here's a list of the Top Five Cookies

Here's a list of the Top Five Cookies
1) Chocolate Chip
2) Chocolate Chip
3) Chocolate Chip
4) Chocolate Chip
5) variations on Chocolate Chip

NY Times: On Basic Religion Test, Many Doth Not Pass

NY Times:

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.
On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.
Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.
"Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey," said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.
"I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people," Mr. Silverman [president of American Atheists] said. "Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists."
full @

Write your own Science article

This is a news website article about a scientific paper

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of "scare quotes" to ensure that it's clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research "challenges".

If the research is about a potential cure, or a solution to a problem, this paragraph will describe how it will raise hopes for a group of sufferers or victims.

This paragraph elaborates on the claim, adding weasel-words like "the scientists say" to shift responsibility for establishing the likely truth or accuracy of the research findings on to absolutely anybody else but me, the journalist.

In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won't provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can't be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.

"Basically, this is a brief soundbite," the scientist will say, from a department and university that I will give brief credit to. "The existing science is a bit dodgy, whereas my conclusion seems bang on" she or he will continue.

I will then briefly state how many years the scientist spent leading the study, to reinforce the fact that this is a serious study and worthy of being published by the BBC the website.

full @

Monday, September 27, 2010

Paper or plastic?

from my friend Sam:
Tattooed woman 'told to put bag over head by Jobcentre'

A woman with 30 tattoos claims she was told to ''put a bag over her head'' when she went for a job interview.

Hayley O'Neil, 23, - who also has 20 body piercings - says was also advised to ''stand behind a wall'' when she asked a job centre official what post she could apply for.

She eventually left the Job Centre Plus centre in Blackburn Lancs in tears without any interviews lined up after the advisor concluded: ''Who would hire you looking like that?''

NY Times: Bar Codes Add Detail on Items in TV Ads

Embedded in commercials, the bar codes will contain as much as five minutes' worth of Web information on a product.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just in case this story slipped past your news radar...

Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell (in 2007 on The O'Reilly Factor):


"They are -- they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they're already into this experiment."


Latest in Criminal Fashion: Yankee Caps

The New York Police Department reports that criminals have taken a liking to donning Yankees caps and jerseys when committing burglaries, muggings and other violations of law.
Police records since 2000 show that more than 100 people suspected of committing crimes in New York City wore Yankees apparel at the time of the crimes or during their arrest.
By contrast, only about a dozen lawbreakers were wearing Mets gear.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nobody does it better

NY Times: ARTS   | September 23, 2010
Television Review | 'Outsourced':  At Call Center, Cultural Clash In Reverse
In the new NBC comedy "Outsourced," an office manager of a Midwestern company moves to Mumbai to run a call center, and mockery ensues.


My friend John commented:

" . . . a comedy about Indian capitalism that mostly makes fun of American decline. That's a healthy sign - television may be the one American industry that is not on a downward slope. "
OK, that, and high-speed pizza delivery.

Captain Picard to food replicator: "Pizza... Cheese... Hot."

Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter
Officially Licensed Star Trek Collectable!

Humor from The Onion

sometimes, all The Onion needs is a headline...
"Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus",18127/

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Oh, Max... not the Cone of Silence!"

No Privacy in Your Cubicle? Try an Electronic Silencer

Two people in an office here were having a tete-a-tete, but it was impossible for a listener standing nearby to understand what they were saying. The conversation sounded like a waterfall of voices, both tantalizingly familiar and yet incomprehensible.

The cone of silence, called Babble, is actually a device composed of a sound processor and several speakers that multiply and scramble voices that come within its range.

The system will be introduced in June by Sonare Technologies, a new subsidiary of Herman Miller, the maker of the Aeron chair, as part of an effort to move beyond office furniture. The company plans to sell the device for less than $400 through consumer electronics and office supply stores.

full story at:

Babbel website:

Components of class : NY Times interactive graph:
from the website:
One way to think of a person's position in society is in terms of four factors - 
education, income, occupation and wealth.
visit the webpage, and just move your mouse over the 4 menu choices 
to determine your percentile ranking in the 4 components.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Would you like to Supersize that statin ?"

from Physorg:

Free statins with fast food could neutralize heart risk, scientists say

No Way Out

I've noticed conflicting messages sent by two types of TV shows:
Local News, and Crime Shows.

When watching local news, you're given a frightening list of all the muggings, rapes and murders that have occurred in your home town. The message is, "It's not safe outside. Stay home."

However, on crime shows , the detectives invariably ask the suspect, "Where were you on the night of the 15th?"
The suspect replies, "I was at home, watching TV.""
Did anyone see you? Can anyone verify your alibi?"
"No, I was alone."

So these are our options:
1>  Go out on the town, be seen, and run the risk of being a crime victim.
2>  Stay home, and run the risk of being a crime suspect.

. A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies

SCIENCE   | September 21, 2010
A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies

Turning homegrown habaneros into hot sauce is cause to celebrate the human capacity to enjoy such tasty pain. 

 a friend of mine commented:

I liked the line
"Philosophers have often looked for the defining feature of humans — language, rationality, culture and so on. I'd stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce."
So much for tool use


"Visitor's Guide to Molvania"

Before Borat and Kazakhstan, there was JetLag's "Visitor's Guide to Molvania"


The Great Plains, recently granted UNESCO World Heritage status as a "site of significant monotony."

Svetranj locals gather each year on the 6th of June to celebrate the Feast of the Lopsided Saints.

"Togurfga trakij sdonchskia?"  [What happened to your teeth?]

National Anthem:


 other countries to visit:
Phaic Tan:
San Sombreo:


Friday, September 17, 2010

RE: OMG Quote of the day

 It seems that the Time website had a typo
my friend john replied:

I just had to Google that one.  The first site I have found with that apparent quote makes me think Time magazine's version is a typo.  Should be psychics, not physics.

That being said, you can go to the website above and get a good dose of her Dumb Quotes.

Subject: OMG Quote of the day
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 13:03:58 -0400

from my friend Shelly:
  "Physics put (sic) people in spiritual harm, the same way pimps put people in physical harm."
     -  Chris O'Donnell, Tea Party candidate for Joe Biden's former Delaware Senate seat,

          noted in Time Magazine's Technology section Daily Dose

the Daily Show's "Rally to Restore Sanity"

"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs?

Seriously, who?

Because we're looking for those people. We're looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it's appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.

Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we'd like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 -- a date of no significance whatsoever -- at the Daily Show's "Rally to Restore Sanity."
Ours is a rally for the people who've been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) -- not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence... we couldn't. That's sort of the point.

Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we'll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila.
Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don't. If you'd rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice... Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We'll make it worth your while.

OMG Quote of the day

from my friend Shelly:
  "Physics put (sic) people in spiritual harm, the same way pimps put people in physical harm."
     -  Chris O'Donnell, Tea Party candidate for Joe Biden's former Delaware Senate seat,

          noted in Time Magazine's Technology section Daily Dose

Now there's a headline for you

from my friend Paul:



Thursday, September 16, 2010

data transfer speeds

Pigeon flies past broadband in data speed race
another case where Nature beat Technology:
A snail - pulling a chariot with DVD wheels - deliverd more info than ASDL

 "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."
 Andrew S. Tanenbaum    Computer Networks, 4th Ed. p. 91

Stephen Hawking: ten pearls of wisdom

Stephen Hawking on why the universe exists:
"If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God."
A Brief History of Time
Stephen Hawking on God:
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing ... It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."
Hawking: God did not create Universe, The Times
Stephen Hawking on the possibility of contact with alien life:
"I think it would be a disaster. The extraterrestrials would probably be far in advance of us. The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low."
Naked Science: Alien Contact, The National Geographic Channel
Stephen Hawking on authorship:
"Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales. I therefore resolved not to have any equations at all."
A Brief History of Time
Stephen Hawking on computer viruses:
"Maybe it says something about human nature, that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive"
Life in the Universe, public lecture
Stephen Hawking on euthanasia:
"The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope."
People's Daily Online
Stephen Hawking on celebrity:
"The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away."
Interview on Israeli television
Stephen Hawking on cutting corners:
"To show this diagram properly, I would really need a four dimensional screen. However, because of government cuts, we could manage to provide only a two dimensional screen."
The Beginning of Time, public lecture
Stephen Hawking on imperfection:
"Without imperfection, you or I would not exist."
Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, The Discovery Channel
Stephen Hawking on Stephen Hawking:
"It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven't done badly. People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining."
Return of the time lord, The Guardian



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FW: LOLCat Bible

from my friend Sam

Not sure if you've seen this already, but apparently people on the internet have way too much time on their hands and decided to "translate" the Bible into LOLCat speak.  It's kinda impressive while kinda pathetic at the same time.


1 Ceiling Cat iz mai sheprd (which is funni if u knowz teh joek about herdin catz LOL.)
 He givz me evrithin I need.

2 He letz me sleeps in teh sunni spot
 an haz liek nice waterz r ovar thar.

3 He makez mai soul happi
 an maeks sure I go teh riet wai for him. Liek thru teh cat flap insted of out teh opin windo LOL.

4 I iz in teh valli of dogz, fearin no pooch,
 bcz Ceiling Cat iz besied me rubbin' mah ears, an it maek me so kumfy.

5 He letz me sit at teh taebl evn when peepl who duzint liek me iz watchn.
 He givz me a flea baff an so much gooshy fud it runz out of mai bowl LOL.

6 Niec things an luck wil chase me evrydai
 an I wil liv in teh Ceiling Cats houz forevr.

I'll never read Psalm 23 the same way again.

"Ceiling Cat" ?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

putting things into perspective

American journalist Harry Golden once wrote:

I have a rule against registering complaints in a restaurant, because I know that there are at least four billion suns in the Milky Way, which is only one galaxy. Many of these suns are thousands of times larger than our own, and vast millions of them have whole planetary systems, including literally billions of satellites, and all of this revolves at the rate of about a million miles an hour, like a huge oval pinwheel.

Our own sun and its planets, which includes the earth, are on the edge of this wheel. This is only our small corner of the universe, so why do not these billions of revolving and rotating suns and planets collide? The answer is, the space is so unbelievably vast that if we reduced the suns and the planets in correct mathematical proportion with relation to the distances between them, each sun would be a speck of dust, two, three and four thousand miles away from its nearest neighbour.


And, mind you, this is only the Milky Way -- our own small comer -- our own galaxy. How many galaxies are there? Billions. Billions of galaxies spaced at about one million light years apart. Within the range of our biggest telescopes there are at least one hundred million separate galaxies such as our own Milky Way, and that is not all, by any means.


The scientists have found that the further you go out into space with the telescopes the thicker the galaxies become, and there are billions of billions as yet uncovered to the scientist's camera and astrophysicist's calculations.


When you think of all this, it's silly to worry whether the waitress brought you string beans instead of limas.




Worthy Cause... and Effect



Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2, is famous throughout the entertainment industry for being more than just a little self-righteous.


At a recent U2 concert in Glasgow, Scotland, he asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds.


Holding the audience in total silence, he spoke into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."

A voice with a broad Scottish accent came from the front of the crowd, piercing the quiet:

 "Well, foockin' stop doin' it then, ya evil bastard!"



Further research from "Duh!" magazine


Monday, September 13, 2010

"Honey, I promise to call you ... often."

news item:

Hideto Tomabechi, a cognitive scientist, says he has applied a 'subliminal technique' to help women enlarge their bustline using a ringtone, aptly named Rockmelon, reports
Using an unheard electronic instruction to the woman's brain that a baby is crying is at the base of the ringtone, combined with other sounds, to open your (the woman's) cognition, which then produces an effect in the body.


6th PA regiment @ Indenhofen Farm

The 6th Pennsylvania Regiment will be at the Indenhofen Farm in Skippack
on Sept 25 and 26
Come check out the Revolutionary War Troops and their camp.
Talk to the soldiers, see their equipment and learn about their duties.
Get a sense of the life of a soldier at the actual encampment here in the Skippack back in the year of 1777.
 * Musket drills & firing demonstrations 
 * Encampment: tents, kitchen display, surgeon's display
 * Cooking demonstration in camp
 * Children's wooden musket drill

Food and great fun for families. All welcome.
Further information at 
(which features a picture of Yours Truly)


Friday, September 10, 2010

Yearly Reminder

The New Year is 5771, so remember not to write 5770 on your checks.

May you be dipped in honey, and your apples inscribed in the Book of Life.


RE: three's a crowd

there have been some misunderstandinga about this puzzle
sorry I wans't clear
I mean the same actor played one character three times
the same actor played a different character three times.
Harrison Ford was Indiana Joens three times
but what other character did he play three times ?
(this one's easy)
see what I mean?
same actor; two characters; three times each


Subject: three's a crowd
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2010 09:30:28 -0400

 Here's your movie trivia stumper for the weekend.

Name movie actors who have appeared as the same character three times.
Easy, right?

Now, name those that have done that TWICE.

For example: Sylvester Stallone has been "Rocky Balboa" three times
<and counting>
and has also been "John Rambo" three times.

Who else?


three's a crowd

 Here's your movie trivia stumper for the weekend.

Name movie actors who have appeared as the same character three times.
Easy, right?

Now, name those that have done that TWICE.

For example: Sylvester Stallone has been "Rocky Balboa" three times
<and counting>
and has also been "John Rambo" three times.

Who else?


Rosh Hashanah

As you know, Rosh Hashanah marks the "Birthday of the World."

In the Beginning, there was nothing.
And God said, "Let there be Light !"
And there was Light.
There was still nothing, but you could see it better.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

This Day in History

 Sep 9, 1776:
The Second Continental Congress changed the name of the nation to the United States of America, from the United Colonies.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A pair of sock stories.

Robot Learns to Pair Socks… Incredibly Slowly


Scientists at UC Berkeley have programmed a robot to pair socks.

Well, sort of.

It's not about to sort your laundry for you, but if you've got one sock inside out,

this little guy will flip it and pair it with its mate… in about fifteen minutes.





Romans wore socks with sandals, new British dig suggests


New evidence from an archaeological dig has found that legionnaires wore socks with sandals.  

Rust on a nail from a Roman sandal found in newly discovered ruins in North Yorkshire appears

to contain fibres which could suggest that a sock-type garment was being worn.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This American Life - "Family Physics"

 We take the stately laws of physics—laws which mathmaticians and scientists have spent centuries discovering and verifying—and apply them to the realm of human relationships, to see if they shed useful light on our daily lives.

download MP3 at



We hear two stories of everyday life which are more easily understood if one knows some of the laws of physics, specifically the Mediocrity Principle and the Casimir Effect. Then Particle Physicist and NPR Correspondent Dave Kestenbaum explains why physicists hate it when non-scientists try to apply these laws and principles to their daily lives. (8 minutes)

Act One. Occam's Razor.

In Los Angeles, Cris Beam reports on a family named the Paladinos that had a theory that explained their lives. And then, at some point, that theory came to seem inadequate. It didn't seem to match the data and evidence at hand. So they switched to a different theory. (30 minutes)



Act Two. The Trajectory And Force Of Bodies In Orbit.

Jon Ronson tells the story of how his parents decided to commission a family portrait, and how things went awry because of the brilliant but troubled local artist they hired for the job. In the story, Jon circles in a reluctant orbit around his parents, and his parents are in a rather energetic orbit of their own. Jon's the author of Them: Adventures with Extremists.


Act Three. Conservation Of Energy And Matter.
David Sedaris outlines an experiment he conducted with fluids and a tube and a bag. The result: The Stadium Pal. His story was recorded before a live audience by Seattle Arts and Lectures. He's the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and other books.


NOW they tell me !

NY Times:

In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying.
The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language. But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.
full @

Friday, September 03, 2010

Stoned people do the darndest things.

Am J Gastroenterol. 1993 Jan;88(1):122-6.

Fulminant acute colitis following a self-administered hydrofluoric acid enema.

Cappell MS, Simon T.

Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson (Rutgers) Medical School, New Brunswick.

A 33-yr-old white male presented with bloody diarrhea, leukocytosis, and left lower quadrant direct and rebound tenderness after a self-administered concentrated hydrofluoric acid enema while intoxicated from intranasal cocaine administration. Intraoperative flexible sigmoidoscopy and a gastrografin enema revealed severe mucosal ulceration and edema in the rectum and sigmoid colon. Laparotomy revealed an ulcerated, necrotic, and purulent sigmoid colon and intraperitoneal pus. The patient underwent a limited sigmoid resection and a Hartman procedure. Five months later, the patient presented with a rectal stricture which was resected. This case demonstrates that a hydrofluoric acid enema can cause fulminant acute colitis and chronic colonic strictures.



What Do Panhandlers Really Do With the Money They Make?

What Do Panhandlers Really Do With the Money They Make? 
Ever wondered what panhandlers actually do with the change that fills their Dunkin' Donuts cups every day?
Now you don't have to.

Toronto Star  reporter Jim Rankin spent several days wandering downtown Toronto and passing out prepaid cards worth $50 or $60 to people who asked him for money.
He asked his test subjects to buy what they needed and then return the cards.
And what did they need? A double quarter-pounder with cheese. A root beer. Fifteen minutes' worth of talk time on a pre-paid cell phone. Cigarettes. More than a few stops at the liquor store.
Rankin was surprised by some of the transactions (one man took a $50 card, spent $8 at McDonalds, and promptly returned the card), and by the number of people who turned down the card altogether. Some people weren't sure it would work, and others didn't want to leave their panhandling spots.
According to Rankin, some of Toronto's panhandlers make $50-$60 per day, enough to buy time at an Internet cafe and Skype with family members.